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Saturdays, I get up late (around 5:00 am instead of 3:30 ), drink a coffee before instead of during, don’t visit the sites I usually visit to see what’s happening, and check my email after — sometimes way after – instead of first thing. So I hadn’t seen John Doe’s email when I was writing Google and Bing, copyright infringers, a post wondering if there’s any real difference between Google, say, and The Pirate Bay, say; and, if not, why isn’t Gargoyle being sued for facilitating supposed unauthorised file sharing, but TPB is?Says John Doe’s email, “Surfthechannel.com operators under attack in UK. UK-FACT was unable to get criminal charges filed against SurfTheChannel.”Unofficially, FACT stands for Farcical Approaches to Copyright Transgressions. Officially, it’s Federation Against Copyright Theft, a(nother) Hollywood spin outfit.“Some of you will be old hands at the piracy process and will know it’s all gone online, but they all stem from the same source,” Eddy Leviten told people at a spin presentation sponsored by FACT and Warner Brothers Entertainment, Europe. He’s FACT’s UK factotum and, it’s all down to camcorder copies, he told his audience. Even though Hollywood insiders are responsible for many, if not most, of the immaculate digital copies of feature movies which show up on the P2P file sharing networks. You know. Like Wolverine.In the SurfTheChanne civil case, says John Doe, quoting Mike Masnick in TechDirt, “once again, a judge is going to have to determine why a third party website can be guilty of others’ infringement based on a highly subjective ‘I know it when I see it’ set of reasons”:In his post, Mike states »»» I’ve had a lot of trouble with courts around the globe pinning blame on search engines for what they find, using a questionable interpretation of the law for “contributory” infringement or “inducing” infringement. Such things leave open such a wide spectrum of questions, it basically puts any search engine at risk. People have questioned in the past why Google isn’t targeted the same way The Pirate Bay or Torrentspy were, because functionally they’re doing the same thing: they index information and help people find it. Of course, some will say that The Pirate Bay is somehow guilty because of the way it acts towards copyright holders, but since when has attitude changed whether the same action is legal or illegal?Either way it’s beginning to feel like judges are determining what is and what is not contributory infringement in the same way “obscenity” is determined, using Justice Potter Stewart’s famous “I know it when I see it” test. This is a bad thing, because while some may claim the extremes are clear (which is certainly questionable) there’s a large gray area in the middle that is completely unclear. And having a huge unclear gray area means a lot of potential liability on innovators — leading fewer people to innovate. And that’s undeniably bad.Take for example, the situation going on in the UK, where Anton Benjamin Vickerman and his wife Kelly-Anne Vickerman decided to do something that makes a lot of sense: create a search engine for videos online, indexing a variety of different sites. This was as a part of their company Scopelight, and the search engine itself was called Surfthechannel. This is certainly a useful product. But, of course, the search engine’s algorithm has no way of knowing if that video has been put up by the copyright holder on purpose or if it’s unauthorized. Even more tricky, how does it determine fair use? So, it did the reasonable thing: it includes everything. Lots of the videos are legal. Plenty are potentially unauthorized. Apparently that wasn’t good enough for a UK-based anti-piracy group UK-FACT, who had Scopelight’s premises raided, claiming the site is illegal, since people can find unauthorized content via it. Of course, you can find unauthorized content on Google as well. But you know who’s liable for that? Whoever actually put it online. Not the search engine that pointed you to it. Suspicion of conspiracy to defraud“Police seized property and equipment from Anton and Kelly-Anne Vickerman when they raided their Tyneside home last year,” says John Doe in his email, linking to a Newcastle Evening Chronicle post which in part says a decision was taken not to prosecute, and, “the couple are now fighting to get back their computer equipment”. They say it contains confidential information vital to their company, Scopelight,” the story states, going on »»» In a case which raises legal issues never before considered by the courts, they are seeking a judicial ruling that the items, which the police have passed on to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), should be returned to them. Their barrister, Donald McCue, accused police of acting as “handmaidens” of FACT , even though it is a private organisation. This, he said, meant it does not have the “faintest right” to retain any of the property as it is simply a “commercial organisation”. The Vickermans insist their company is legitimate and is a “signpost” website containing links to other internet sites, a bit like a very comprehensive online version of the Radio Times. But Richard Spearman, QC, representing Northumbria Police and FACT, argued FACT is entitled to hold on to the seized property while it considers a private prosecution.Handmaidens indeedIt’s, “yet another wholly owned entertainment cartel thingy designed to frighten people into buying over-priced corporate movie studio and record label ‘product’ they wouldn’t normally touch with a barge-pole,” said p2pnet of FAC T almost three years ago, continuing: “That way, hope the purveyors of sounds that suck and mangy movies, people won’t mind if their kids get sued for not buying corporate ‘product’.“Astoundingly, Britain recently announced the formation of an official Metropolitan Police squad to be “partnered” with FACT and, “dedicated to combating movie piracy and those responsible for the manufacture and distribution of pirated films …”But it’s no secret the corporate entertainment cartels long ago penetrated police and law enforcement agencies around the world and now routinely use them as corporate enforcers, funded by local taxpayers.In other words, “facts are the last thing FACT is about and under instructions from the Big Six Hollydud studios and Big Four Organized Music gang, it tries to link file sharing with Organised Crime, Triads and terrorists,” said the story.John Doe also points to Slashdot’s Another Question Of Search Engine Legality and Infringement which also quotes Mike Masnick in TechDirt, who adds: “UK-FACT was unable to get criminal charges filed against SurfTheChannel, but no matter, a civil case has been filed instead. So, once again, a judge is going to have to determine why a third party website can be guilty of others’ infringement based on a highly subjective ‘I know it when I see it’ set of reasons. This is a bad deal for everyone.”